When you meet Donna McGee, it is obvious she takes cooking seriously. She has a large notebook full of recipes, and she comments on each one like an old friend.
“I guess I kind of taught myself to cook,” said Donna, “I did have Home Economics as a freshman in North Carolina, but before that my 4-H leader, Margaret Masteller, helped me a lot.”
Donna was in 4-H since she was 9 or 10 years old.
She was born in Sanford, N.C., and moved to Selby when she was about 9 years old. Her mother married a soldier at Fort Bragg, N.C., and they eventually moved back to his hometown of Selby.
Donna went to school here for most of her youth and graduated from Selby High School. She eventually moved to Kansas on the invitation of a friend. There she worked for Sprint as a telephone operator and met her husband, Gary.
She has three children. Dusty lives in Ft Pierre, Vikki is a teacher in Peculiar, Mo., and her son Marty lives in Williston, N.D. There are seven grandchildren between them and three great-grand children.
Gary and Donna have been married for 21 years. He was a foreman for a company that oversees the wiring and electrical work in new Walmart distribution centers. The couple traveled together, often moving every seven to nine months. As secretary for an adjoining crew, Donna has lived all over the southeast and in much of the northeast. She fondly recalls living in Strasburg, Pa., and listening to the Amish with their horses clop-clopping on the highway through the trees.
Donna bought and ran a store in Rapid City called Cinnamon Rolls 4U and ran it for a year before selling the business and her house, and moving to Texas to be near Gary’s mom. They stayed in Texas for six or seven years. There Donna applied for a part-time job for a furniture distributor called Rocking Horse Depot. The store specialized in teak furniture, cowhide furniture and rocking horses. Within a month, Donna was working full-time as unofficial office manager and soon more warehouses were added.
When the boss sold the store, Donna’s brother told Gary about a house that was coming up for sale in Selby and the couple came home. Gary retired in 2010 and they moved back in 2011. They were sitting in the restaurant when the cook from the school approached her and asked her if she’d be willing to fill in for a few girls who were going to be taking some time off. During summer break, she was approached by the cook at the nutrition site and asked if she would help out over the summer. The cook quit, and Donna has been doing the gig ever since.
She takes advantage of new technology and tries the latest thing to help in the kitchen.
“I’m a big-time gadget queen,” said Donna “I have a toaster now that’s digital.”
She laughs at the idea, and goes on to describe the futuristic way the machine darkens each side to a specific preference. She goes on to describe some of the kitchen utensils she owns now, including choppers and food processers, insta-pots and rice cookers.
Donna said she used to like to dance and still does, actually. She just doesn’t find the occasion for it here as often as some of the other places she’s lived. Her mom taught her to square dance when she was barely walking but the two-step is her favorite.
“I like to crochet, read and bike ride. I like gothic novels, mystery types,” said Donna. Sometimes she reads “Taste of Home,” but said, “Once in a while there’s a good one, but most of the recipes in there are oddball stuff that you don’t have on hand.”
Donna also loves to golf and was the president of the lady’s golf league in Selby for two years while they had enough women to have a league. She learned to golf when she was young.
Donna McGee’s Recipes
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar mixed with 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
Your choice of pie fillings
Four to five tubes of buttermilk biscuits (I used three tubes of Grands biscuits).
Mix all ingredients together and cook in the microwave until bubbles and thickens. I take it out and finish it on the stove because of the eggs. Let cool.
Pull to stretch biscuits up the sides of a muffin tin, Teflon no grease. Put a heaping tablespoon of the pie filling onto the dough then cover with two tablespoons of the filling.
Bake at 350 (13-15 minutes or edges are light brown). Let cool and serve.
4 ½ lbs. potatoes, diced works best
1/8 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, grated
½ cup butter
1 8-oz package of cream cheese
1 10-oz can of chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 cups water drained from vegetables
1 tsp salt
½ tsp of pepper
Shredded cheddar for the top.
Combine first 3 ingredients and just cover with water. Cover and boil until tender (12 minutes). Reserve water. Beat cream cheese and butter. Add chicken broth. Beat well, gradually adding milk. Beat until smooth and put into roster. Add mixture to vegetables and stir in two cups of the reserved water. Salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes and mash with a masher until desired thickness is obtained. Top with cheddar and if desired, bacon.
Olive Garden style Alfredo Sauce
1 package pasta, penne or fettucine
1 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp cream cheese
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
Make pasta. In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Then add heavy cream and cream cheese. Heat until bubbling, but do not boil. Add parmesan and stir until melted and smooth. Serve over noodles. I add chicken or shrimp to mine, but it’s good plain too.
The Best Cranberry Salad
“This recipe is me.”
1 pkg fresh cranberries
Put it in a food processor and grind to desired texture. I like mine pretty fine.
Place in a bowl and add sugar to taste. It takes a good bit, because as everyone knows cranberries are tart. I usually start with 1 cup, which is good for us.
Add ½ package or more of miniature marshmallows, cover and let stand overnight in refrigerator.
Then add peeled, chopped apples, one or two depending on size. Granny Smith is best. Add washed, drained and cut in half grapes, as many as you like. Add chopped pecans to taste, optional if you don’t like pecans too much. Then add real whipped cream. Add a little sugar to the whipped cream and refrigerate. So good, and keeps a couple of days.