Faith, family and friends are the recipe for treasured dishes

By Chef Don Bingham

At the heart of my love of cooking is the involvement of faith, family and friends in the kitchen! Most families have their traditional favorite recipes that have survived the test of time for generations. Our family has lots of these. Most are written on cards or the backs of envelopes or preserved in one of many three-ring binders. Some are labeled as originating from the Bingham side of the family and others from the Barker side of the family tree (my wife’s family). Others come from the years in church-related ministry and from the years of our restaurant, Zinzendorf’s Tea Room. Others are from 12 years’ experience in the world of hospitality and politics at the Governor’s Mansion, and from the years of television segments sponsored by Kroger. (There are, literally, hundreds of recipes that were offered through the Arkansas Kroger stores that were available following the Noon Show with Beth Ward, every Wednesday for seven years.)

“The five dishes featured in this month’s 501 are the chosen favorites of our daughters and son.” – Don Bingham. Jessica Faulkner (from left), Janna Williams, Jill McCollum, Jennifer Newton and Joe Bingham on Easter 1983.

At the suggestion of the 501 LIFE Publisher, I asked our five children what their favorite dishes are that their family has carried through to the next generation and make regular appearances on their dining room tables. It was not as daunting to do this as one might expect. Our daughter, Jessica Faulkner, recently compiled a collection of family recipes from all of us in a lovely three-ring binder, entitled “The Bingham Family Recipe Collection.” Jessica presented each member of the family with a personal copy. What a treasure! Much of its contents find their origins in Nancy, the true matriarch of the family—and by the way, she is the best cook! There are lots of recipes that carry the name of the children who created them, the dishes we all love, ranging from Jessica’s Pretzel Salad to Jenn’s Broccoli Salad, to Janna’s Texas Caviar, Joseph’s Crawfish Boil and Carrie’s Crawfish Dip! And who could possibly omit Kathryn’s Potato Soup or Dad’s Snow Ice Cream and Mom’s Blackberry Cobbler?

As I peruse the collection, a multitude of memories flood my heart with all the years of grand times around the kitchen stove, most filled with culinary delight and some with blood, sweat, and yes, even tears. I have watched aspiring chefs grow in their art, including two of our family members becoming professional chefs, and seen life relived with a technology twist through the perspective of our daughter Jill McCollum, who carries the chef’s torch to greater heights! 

I suppose the greatest thing these recipes do for me is to recall the beautiful people they represent—the heart and soul of the cook. And when all is said and done and cooked, the genuine love of faith, family and friends still remains! The sweet remembrance of the hundreds of friends who came alongside us, held up our arms when there was nothing left with which to stir the pot, and those who prayed us through “sickness and health” and through “richer or poorer.” To all these precious ones, we are eternally grateful for all of you—and for your recipes, too!

Mom’s Pot Roast

3-4 pounds chuck roast, any type

1 large onion, quartered

2-3 stalks of celery

6-8 small potatoes

6-8 carrots

beef bouillon

Cut off excess fat from roast and brown on both sides in a sauté pan in 1-2 Tbsp. oil. Salt and pepper both sides. Place in a cooking pan with a lid or use foil to cover. Add at least 2 cups beef broth or beef bouillon. Add 2-3 stalks of celery, cut in thirds; 1 large onion cut in 4 pieces; 6-8 cleaned carrots; and 6-8 small potatoes. Cook for 3 hours at 325. Let meat rest before slicing.

Mom’s Apple Pie


1 1/3 cup of flour, all purpose

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup ice water


4-6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Granny Smith is best)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon


1 cup of flour, all purpose

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick butter

Crust: Mix flour, salt and shortening until cornmeal consistency. Add water, mix lightly; roll out. Makes one pie crust.

Filling: Place apples and sugar into an unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of sugared apples.

Topping: Mix flour, sugar and butter together to a crumble state. Sprinkle generously on top of apples. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the apples are done. 

Pimento Cheese

1 block of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

½ -1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s)

2-3 teaspoons pickle juice

1 jar pimentos, chopped

Use the smallest grater for cheese. Mix mayo and pickle juice together with wire whisk. Add in pimentos and fold in grated cheese. Depending on the wetness of the mixture, more mayo can be added.

Jill’s Strawberry Pie

2 2/3 cup granulated sugar

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup water

1 small package strawberry gelatin

1 pint strawberries

1 baked 10-inch pie crust

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Heavy whipping cream for topping

Cook sugar, cornstarch and water until thick, then stir in gelatin. Let cool completely, but not set up. Pour fresh strawberries into cooled liquid. Mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and spread on the bottom of prebaked pie shell; pour strawberry mixture over cream cheese and refrigerate. Serve with whipping cream. This recipe may also be used with peaches and peach gelatin in place of strawberry.

Nancy’s Blackberry Cobbler

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup butter, softened

7-9 Tbsp. ice water

2 cups of blackberries

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice from freshly squeezed lemon

Mix flour, salt, shortening until it looks like peas, add 7-9 Tbsp. of water just until pastry comes together; divide into 3 pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Roll out on floured foil; place one piece of pastry in the bottom of a 9 X 12 baking dish. Add 1/2 of the sugared blackberries, then another crust, and then the rest of the berries. Top with the final piece of pastry, then top the pastry with butter and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Depending on the sweetness of berries, more sugar may be added if needed.

Don Bingham
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