Family-rich recipes

Thick baked beans, meatballs are part of dining tradition that mother passed to son

Thick baked beans, meatballs are part of dining tradition that mother passed to son

March 19, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

Brian Sease has been cooking "a very, very, very long time."

His skills in the kitchen are not too different from those he uses at The Herald-Mail Co. As pagination system manager, Sease's job is to make sure the newspaper pages get out correctly and on time.

Sounds kind of like making dinner.

Sease, 30, enjoys the creativity and seeing the finished product, whether it's merging editorial and advertising content via computer or mixing up a batch of ingredients in his kitchen.

Born and raised in Waynesboro, Pa., the 1991 Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate had his first job doing salad prep and some short-order cooking at Keystone Kountry Kitchen in Waynesboro (now Mountain Gate Family Restaurant.)


He considered going to school to study graphic design but got a job designing ads at the Record Herald newspaper in Waynesboro and worked his way up to becoming computer systems administrator.

Sease has worked at The Herald-Mail in a variety of computer capacities for four and a half years, but he's been cooking much longer.

He recalls getting up in the middle of the night to experiment in the kitchen when the rest of his family was asleep. He was about 12 years old when he attempted to make a cherry pie.

"I kind of botched the crust," he says.

He cleaned up the kitchen, though. "I tried to make it look like nothing happened."

Sease spent a lot of time watching his mother in the kitchen.

"I really looked up to my mom as a cook," he says.

She was very particular, Sease says. If she wasn't satisfied with something, she'd throw it out, not settling for less than perfect, he adds.

Sease's mom, Nancy Toms Sease, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in February 2001, but felt pretty good until the end, her son says.

"You guys really need to pay attention to what I do," she told her husband, Ronnie Sease, and her three children as she prepared what would be her final Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners a few months before she died in February 2002.

Nancy Sease didn't cook 2002's holiday dinners, but her family rallied.

Ronnie Sease cleaned the turkey, something he never had done before.

Brian Sease stuffed it and drove it to the house he shares with his wife, Angie, and put it in the oven about midnight.

His family gathered to prepare the rest of the meal.

"We knew what to do. We just knew," he says.

It was quiet last November when the Sease family sat down to their first Thanksgiving without Nancy Sease.

"I think Mom would have been proud," said her daughter, Kathy Smith-Lange.

"We knew we had it," Brian Sease says,

He enjoys cooking and does all of the meal preparation since his July 2001 marriage. Angie Sease says her husband's Cracker Crumb Chicken, one of his mom's recipes, is probably her favorite.

Brian Sease likes the challenge of preparing big meals for family on weekends. He likes to experiment and admits to failures as well as successes.

He has branched out from the spiral notebook that contains his mother's handwritten recipes. The well-worn volume is missing its cover, and its pages bear the marks of many of her concoctions.

Nancy Sease wouldn't touch hogmaw - stuffed pig belly - something her son enjoys making.

Brian Sease loves to make desserts, and likes to get creative

"Looks count when it comes to cooking," he says. "Food needs to look appetizing."

Nancy Sease's recipes weren't fancy. "My mom could pull off the simplest meals," Brian Sease says.

"It was home cooking," he adds. "It's more than food."


  • 2 pounds hamburger

  • 1 egg

  • 3 slices bread, crumbled

Mix and make 1 1/4 inch balls

Brown in skillet


  • 1 two-pound jar traditional (not chunky) spaghetti sauce (The original recipe calls for Ragu brand.)

  • 2 16-ounce cans whole berry cranberry sauce

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix ingredients and add up to 1/2 cup brown sugar by teaspoon to taste.

Simmer on low for about an hour.

Grandma's Baked Beans

  • 2 pounds Great Northern beans

  • 1 pound bacon

  • 2 heaping tablespoons yellow mustard

  • 1 pound brown sugar

  • 1 cup corn syrup (Grandma's recipe calls for King syrup)

  • 1 2-pound bottle of ketchup

Cook beans in water until soft but not mushy, approximately two and a half hours.

When beans are almost fully cooked, cut bacon into pieces and fry. Drain and reserve bacon grease.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When beans are cooked, drain and reserve liquid. Put beans and six cups of reserved liquid in roasting pan. Mix bacon with beans and add 4 tablespoons of bacon grease.

Add mustard, brown sugar, corn syrup and ketchup.

Bake about 1 hour.

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