The Ottumwa Courier

July 13, 2006

Family is a ‘Handy’ ingredient

Ottumwan Beatrice Handy cooks for those who are most important in her life

By SCOTT NILES, Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — Beatrice “Bea” Handy cooks for one reason only — Family.

“One chief ingredient you can’t buy is love,” she said.

Every Saturday, Handy can expect a handful of her children and their spouses at her house for a weekly dinner.

“Its become a tradition now,” she said. “They come over every Saturday, we eat, visit a while and then they leave.”

Every weekend there is a different entree and Handy said it gives her something to do and something to look forward to each week.

“We’ve always been a close family,” she said.

Occasionally, Handy said she will take orders from the family for their favorite dishes.

“Everyone has the dishes they like more,” she said.

She said the weekend gatherings have been going on in her family for at least the past 20 years.

“It’s a way for us to get together and enjoy some food and stay in touch with each other,” she said.

Cooking is something Handy said she grew up learning.

“It was either cook or starve ... when I grew up fast food was almost unheard of, everyone cooked homemade meals,” she said. “A lot has changed ... I have been cooking for probably about 70 years now.”

While some of her recipes may follow a particular recipe, Handy said cooking is usually “just a pinch of this and a pinch of that.

“Most of the time I don’t go by recipes,” she said. “If you have been cooking as long as I have and can’t make things without a recipe, then you might as well not try anymore.”

She said her mother is the one who taught her how to cook and create a variety of interesting dishes.

“I cook all different types of foods for the family,” she said. “Mostly its simple stuff, you know, meat and potatoes ... I’m not big on gourmet foods. I’m a simple gal.”

And as far as Handy is concerned, the weekend tradition has become a part of her life, just like her family.

“As long as I am still able to cook, I will,” she said.

Scott Niles can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or via e-mail at

Raisin filled cookies

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup shortening

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

3 1/2 cups flour

Raisin Filling:

1 cup raisins

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

1 T cornstarch

Mix and cook until thick.

Cream together white and brown sugar and shortening. Add egg and milk. Then, sift together baking soda and powder with flour and mix. Dough will be stiff. Roll out and cut cookies into round shape and top with 1 tsp raisin filling and put second round on and crimp edges. Bake on 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.

— Beatrice “Bea” Handy

Peach Pie


3/4 cup soft shortening

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold water

Makes two large pie crusts.


2 15 oz. cans sliced peaches

2/3 cup sugar

1 rounded T cornstarch

Cook until thickened and pour into unbaked pie shell and top with another crust.

— Beatrice “Bea” Handy

Crescent Rolls

Heat 1 1/2 cups milk and add two sticks margarine. Cool to lukewarm and add two packages of dry yeast. When dissolved, add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, four beaten eggs and approximately seven cups flour. May take more. Knead and let rise to double. Punch down and let rise and divide dough in half and roll out to two large circles. Cut pie-shaped wedges and roll up starting at large end. Let rise and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 12 minutes or to desired brownness.

— Beatrice “Bea” Handy

Pepper Steak

1 1/2 lbs round steak, cut into small strips

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup oil

1 3/4 cup water

dash of garlic salt

1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp pepper

8 oz can tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 T brown gravy mix

1 green pepper

Mix flour, salt, pepper and coat meat in mixture. Brown steak in oil. Add tomatoes, water, onion, garlic salt and gravy mix and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Add Worcestershire sauce and green pepper that has been cut into small strips. Cook additional 12 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

— Beatrice “Bea” Handy