Berlin Hts. cook enjoys creating her own recipes

Cooking is more than a necessity for Jen Bates and her family. For her, it's always been a hobby "I love cookbooks," she said. For her son, it will soon be his vocation her 20-year-old, Michael, is studying to be a professional chef at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 24, 2010

Cooking is more than a necessity for Jen Bates and her family. For her, it's always been a hobby "I love cookbooks," she said.

For her son, it will soon be his vocation her 20-year-old, Michael, is studying to be a professional chef at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute.

Bates is a customer service manager at Wal-Mart, though she's soon to move up to be training coordinator. She also paints, a hobby she also shares with her children. And she, her children and her husband, Eric, an electrician, are very involved in their church. In fact, many of her paintings are murals for the church.

The Berlin Heights woman is also involved in the Edison Alumni Association Committee her youngest, Michelle, is currently a freshman at Edison in Milan.

Her third child, 17-year-old Christopher, is in computer technical school in Michigan.

Bates selected today's recipe because it is one of her family's favorites, and because it is one she made up herself. In her love of cooking, she enjoys both finding new recipes and ideas in cookbooks as well as developing her own. "We like to take ideas and just throw things together."

Meatball stroganoff was a recipe that she saw in a magazine, but she didn't write it down. She kept thinking about it, and figured she could probably make it up. She admits that it took a couple tries to get it right, but it is now one of her family's favorites. She makes it all the time, along with spaghetti, chili and chicken enchiladas.

Those latter are probably the best thing she makes, she said. But, for whatever reason, her comfort foods include the stroganoff, chili and "grandma's soup" a Hawaiian concoction of sausage and ham.

But the stroganoff is her own. It didn't come from her mother or her grandmother, she said.

Not everything she makes is a success, however. To this day, her brother will not let her forget the dish she made when she was about 16 though she is now 42. He calls it "petrified chicken." It was supposed to be fried chicken, but somehow it came out petrified.

In light of such events, Bates' advice to others is: "Taste it before you serve it."