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Texas | Columns | "Wandering"


by Wanda Orton
Wanda Orton

Through the years I gained weight and I have no one to blame except myself and the local newspaper.

Really, if I hadn't pigged out umpteen years with Baytown Sun co-workers, devouring homemade treats, takeouts and fund-raising edibles, maybe I would have stayed skinny.

Or maybe not.

Ranking at the top of our Things-to-Devour list were homemade tamales, and they were the best. The local ladies who made the tamales would take orders and deliver dozens of the spicy treats to the newsroom, supposedly for us to take home for supper. However, not one tamale, that I know of, ever made it to a car to go home with anyone. By quitting time, our to-go tamales were long gone.

It seemed as though every time I would commit to a diet, here would come the little girl from St. Joseph Catholic School selling chocolate bars. To support the school's fund-raiser, I usually bought one or two bars. Well, OK, maybe three or four. After all, it was for a worthy cause.

One might think that, since I worried about my weight, I would have shared the chocolate bars with others. I don't think so.

Speaking of chocolate, on one fine day Vivian Blevins, then the dynamic president of Lee College, made a huge pan of fudge for the chowhounds in the newsroom. How was the college presidential fudge? Can you say Magna Cum Laude?

When I did the police beat, I dealt daily with Peggy Power, the chief's secretary who - like the president of Lee College -- happened to be a terrific cook. All kinds of desserts and snacks made it from Peggy's kitchen to the cop shop. I never cut in line for the Peggy Power-packed buffet -- the officers needed to eat first so they could get out there and solve crimes -- but after they left, I would munch out. Back at work, I had trouble at times reading my notes with all the little smudges of food amidst notes on current felonies and misdemeanors. Shades of crime and cuisine.

Mack McMorrow, a volunteer with the Police Reserve, liked to cook and his main deal was jalapeno cornbread. Mack would make cornbread for the police officers and the Baytown Sun bunch on the same day. He'd call in advance to remind us to have plenty of margarine on hand to spread on the cornbread. And Mack strongly advised potential cornbread cookers: "You gotta use an iron skillet. That's the only way to make the best cornbread."

Our proof reader, Ruth Foster, made the best banana pudding. After former Houston Oiler football star Dan Pastorini spent a half-day hanging out at The Sun with his buddy, feature writer Jim Kyle, we named Ruth's specialty, "Pastorini Pudding." The quarterback went back for multiple helpings.

There's no way I could name all of the good cooks in the newsroom spanning more than four decades, but I must mention Karen Perry. That lady ought to be featured on the Food Network. Karen's toffee candy, in particular, rated five stars. Another fine cook was Nancy Hawks, whose blueberry cheesecake drew raves on food day at The Sun and top awards in various cooking contests.

The Sun receptionist, Mildred Rosamond, brought so many wonderful goodies to work that we made her an honorary member of the news staff. One example: Mildred's mincemeat cake with cream cheese frosting.

(Are you hungry yet?)

At social events I frequently seek recipes for outstanding dishes and desserts, and one such incident occurred at a Boy Scout leaders' potluck dinner many years ago at the Baytown Refinery Community House. After the dinner, I tried in vain to locate the person who brought the scrumptious chocolate cake.

Next day I cried "Help!" on the front page of The Baytown Sun via the Around Town column. "Whoever made that chocolate cake at the East Harris Boy Scout District dinner please contact "

Soon afterward the cake baker arrived in the newsroom with the sought-after recipe, and I've been baking that cake ever since.

As for losing weight, I'm retired now and don't have to worry about food temptations at the workplace. I'm too busy cooking.

© Wanda Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
"Wandering" December 18 , 2017 column

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  • Related Topics:
    Food | Health | Columns

    Wanda Orton's "Wandering"

  • Children's Meds 10-1-17
  • Talking Toddler in Grocery Cart 9-2-17
  • Alcalde, not alcade 8-3-17
  • Walking 7-16-17
  • Boat races in bay area go back to the 1800s 7-1-17

    See more »

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