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Ben Online - typing, reading & reacting

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My wife and I enjoy watching "Globe Trekker" on PBS. I do wish however they wouldn't play the background music so loud and that the "trekkers" spoke more like Texans. My favorite trekker is Megan McCormick. I would like to claim her for a daughter.

Recently she made two trips to China. The first trip was up the Yangtze River to the city where all the clay soldiers and horses are buried. Megan's second trip was 5 days in Beijing, where the Olympics were held. On the previous trip she visited a silk factory. Huge baskets of silk cocoons were placed on a table, sorted according to color, then placed in hot water to kill the silkworms and make it easier to unravel the silk thread.

When I was in first grade I had a quart mason jar with two silkworms inside eating mulberry leaves. I remember taking them to show-and-tell. My father brought them home, maybe from Houston. The worms were white and about 1/2 inch long when I got them. It was my job to supply them with mulberry leaves. We had no mulberry tree - they produce mulberries, which birds love to eat. Mother did not want mulberry poop on her clean laundry hanging on the line. I walked to my grandparents' house, about a mile away, to get the leaves.

When the worms were about an inch long they spun a cocoon completely around themselves. I lost interest but some weeks later my sister reported a hole in one end of a cocoon and a bug with wings inside the jar. Maybe they weren't real silkworms but it was a learning experience for a small boy.

Ben the Cook

Ben the Cook
Action shot from the 1970s



I recently made Tuna Helper, following the instructions on the box and adding margine, milk, etc. Priscilla and I had generous portions for lunch. When she asked about my recipe, I pointed to the kitchen table where the box was sitting...and only then noticed the unopened can of tuna sitting next to the empty box.

Well, we enjoyed our macaroni & cheese lunch and already have the tuna on hand to make another box of Helper.


I watched the TV news show "The Eyes of Texas" for years. When in the mid 1980s they announced the publication of a Texas cookbook I wrote down my grandmother's honey cookie recipe. I asked Priscilla to type it, and she mailed it along with several of her personal favorites.

When the book was published Priscilla's recipes were not included but mine was, with a special mention in the cookbook's introduction. I was invited to the signing in Houston, where I got all three of the main Eyes of Texas contributors to sign the front and while standing in line got a number of contributing cooks to sign their recipe pages.

Some might consider the description "somewhat chewy" an understatement. For those who are dentally impaired, I recommend soaking a cookie in milk or hot coffee before trying to chew it. The good news is, these cookies will keep indefinitely.

Eyes of Texas Cookbook introduction:
My great-grandparents August and Caroline Weiss operated the first cotton gin operated by steam, near Salem in Washington County, Texas. They were among the first German settlers in that area. Money was scarce; however, they always had bees and native pecans...consequently, this recipe was a favorite.

1 1/2 pints honey, warmed
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1 tsp. baking powder
Enough flour for a very stiff dough

Mix all ingredients well. Roll dough out on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter, or drop the dough in a greased pan and flatten with a floured glass. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, with edges slightly darker. These cookies will be somewhat chewy.

Ben's Bio

I was born in Rose Hill, Texas in 1925 and at age 18 drafted into the Army. After my discharge I settled in Tomball, which although a small town had more opportunities than Rose Hill. I ran my own appliance installation and repair business for many years and in 1977 accepted a position as Plant Engineer and Director of Maintenance at Tomball Regional Hospital, where I worked until retirement in the late 1980s. In the 1970s I served two years on Tomball’s City Council, was elected mayor and served for six years during which major streets were paved and guttered, utility lines were extended, and a new jail and city hall were built. After retirement from the hospital I spent time on a genealogy project that included two trips to Germany to visit relatives and look up archival records. I have also gotten into writing, chronicling my WW II experiences and authoring Growing Up in Rose Hill, published by private press and sold as a fund-raiser for the Tomball Community Museum Center, where I have served as a volunteer, trustee and Chairman. I am still involved with the Tomball hospital as a weekly volunteer and serve as General Manager of Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM), a church-sponsored operation that provides food and other assistance to area families. I continue to be involved in writing about my childhood and personal interests, and I still enjoy woodworking and other handyman projects. My wife and I still live in Tomball and are not far from most of our 8 surviving children and 14 grandchildren.