Have you ever awakened to what seemed like a plain old day with nothing out of the ordinary expected, when something you never dreamed would happen again dropped in your lap?

If you have been reading this column for a while, you have been in on lots of my life events. I taught music and directed church choirs for almost 50 years. When in 2010 we moved back to Longview from the Rio Grande Valley, I never thought I would get to direct a choir again.

Well, sometime during the first week in September, I got a text message from a former student of mine who happens to be a minister at the First United Methodist Church of Hallsville. She invited me to lunch. That included an invitation to direct the choir at his church for maybe two to three weeks. I muttered and mumbled and reminded him that I was old enough to be his grandmother. I left with a temporary job and music to last for a few weeks.

It has been a delightful experience, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to “back in the game” for a little while.

That church is dear to me. Several events in our lives have taken place there. The last time I took a temporary job there, it lasted for eight years! This one, however, has been about eight weeks. The church has hired a wonderful music minister who actually sang in the choir when I directed there before.

Of course, I immediately collected recipes during our first rehearsal there.

The first is one that I have made twice this week since Betsy Hunt gave me the recipe her mother, dear Woody Horner, made. It is similar to her mother-in-law’s recipe. Jimmy Hunt’s mother, Georgia Hunt, was one of the first people to tell me about this kind of corn bread.

Woodie Horner’s Hot Water Corn Bread


1 cup white corn meal

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

About 3/4 cup boiling water


Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add boiling water to get right consistency to mold into patties. I am sorry I did not measure the amount but I am guessing I used a scant fourth cup of mixture. Place about 1/3 cup cooking oil in a medium skillet. Heat while making the corn bread patties out. Have a bowl of ice water nearby to dip hands in before molding patties. Make into flat oblong shapes about 3-inches long and about 1 1/2 inches wide. Drop in hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown. Drain and serve hot. This recipe made eight each time I made it.

Carol Tevebaugh is another singer who was in the choir when I was there before. Her family came to visit us shortly after we moved to the Valley, and that meant so much to me. Carol gave me an easy cookie recipe that will be perfect on a tray of Christmas cookies.

Carol’s Date Chews


1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups Graham cracker crumbs


Mix milk, dates and pecans and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add crumbs. Dough will be very thick. Drop cookies using a small cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

The children of these two families were leaders in our children’s choir and had a part in our wedding when Joe and I were married at the church.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal’s Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at bayrm12@gmail.com or in care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.