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‘Food, Family and Friends’ – a few favorite things

Linda is a lady of many talents, and they all reflect her great eye for beauty, art, and presentation—including her cooking. Her food preparation is a blend of taste, textures and eye appeal that makes each dish a creation of pleasure that brings demands for repeats by her family and friends.

Linda, holding a plate of crab triangles, stands in front of two sun catcher plaques she created.

Linda, holding a plate of crab triangles, stands in front of two sun catcher plaques she created.

Her family is her main joy, though, and, when I interviewed her, she and her husband, retired doctor Jerry Roberts, had just returned from a long-delayed visit with her two brothers in Seattle, Washington. Her oldest brother, Mike, makes his home in Seattle, and younger brother Steve flew in from Colorado Springs, Colorado to complete the family reunion. While together the siblings and Jerry made the mandatory visit to the Space Needle, now being renovated, and took a ferry boat ride from Seattle to Vancouver Island, Canada near Victoria where they walked the fabled Butchart Gardens.

Neither Jerry nor Linda are natives of Farmington but moved here partly because of opportunity presenting itself and partly because of location.

Linda was raised in the Hannibal, Bowling Green and Frankfurt area along the Mississippi River and she attended college at Truman State University, where she met Jerry on a blind date. Eventually he was supposed to move to Detroit, Michigan to do his residency at a hospital there and, since they were already talking about getting married, they decided they’d marry before he left so she could go with him.

Jerry and Linda Roberts on their wedding day with Linda's parents Murry and Marguerite Smith (left) and Jerry’s mother, Lola Roberts.

Jerry and Linda Roberts on their wedding day with Linda’s parents Murry and Marguerite Smith (left) and Jerry’s mother, Lola Roberts.

“My parents both really liked Jerry and he and my dad were especially close, so there was no objection from them,” Linda said, “except we chose Dec. 2, 1967 to get married, just two weeks away. Needless to say, we had a very small, but lovely, wedding with just my parents, brothers, Jerry’s mother and a few close friends in attendance.

“After we married, and Jerry had finished his internship and residency, he and a friend, Dr. Hadley Hoyt, set up a practice in Jefferson City. They both received offers from the then-Mineral Area Hospital in Farmington and, on visiting here, we really fell in love with the area and have never changed our minds.

“Jerry had always said that wherever we permanently settled, he had two absolute edicts: it had to be south of the Missouri River (as he had been raised near the Missouri-Iowa state line where the climate was usually much colder), and it should also be a smaller community near a large city. The St. Francois County area fit the bill perfectly, plus it had the added benefit of lots of rivers, lakes and forests, as both Jerry and I love the water and boating. He also enjoys hunting and fishing and started with my dad. Now the boys occasionally join him also.”

Jerry and Linda Roberts recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Twin Oaks Banquet Center. The family has grown considerably. Shown, left to right are (front row): Guy and Kelly, Haley, Jerry and Linda, Megan, Nicole, Kelley and Justin Roberts. Back row: Dylan Weaver, Grant and Greg Roberts, Nathan Vergeaux and Lauren Roberts

Jerry and Linda Roberts recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Twin Oaks Banquet Center. The family has grown considerably. Shown, left to right are (front row): Guy and Kelly, Haley, Jerry and Linda, Megan, Nicole, Kelley and Justin Roberts. Back row: Dylan Weaver, Grant and Greg Roberts, Nathan Vergeaux and Lauren Roberts

Later, after Jerry and his partner decided to take the offer from Mineral Area Hospital, the Roberts first moved to Desloge and then six years later, to Farmington where their two sons, Guy and Justin were both raised and graduated from Farmington High School. Both went on to become doctors who practice at Midwest Health Group on West Pine Street here. Guy is a General Practitioner while Justin specializes in ear, nose and throat. Between them they have given Jerry and Linda six grandchildren and one step-grandson.

Justin has three girls: Lauren who graduated from Farmington High and, most recently, from Truman State University with a bachelor of science in Business. She is marrying Nathan Vergeaux this October. Lauren and Nathan met while he was an exchange student from France at Farmington High. The couple will live in the states, as Nathan has become an integral part of the Roberts family

Megan is Justin’s second daughter and will be a junior at FHS and Nicole, is the youngest, is in eighth grade.

Guy has twin sons, Grant and Greg, who graduated in May of 2018 from FHS, and one daughter, Haley, who will be a senior this fall. He also has one step-son, Dillon, who is in eighth grade.

“It’s a full house when we all get together,” said Linda, “which we frequently do. We love our big family and being together. When the boys were younger we would go snow skiing in Colorado and still enjoy spending a lot of time on our boat at Lake of the Ozarks and other waterways. Our entire family loves and appreciates the many available outdoor activities of this area.”

Linda is also an extremely talented artist, a skill she no doubt inherited from her late mother who was an extraordinary painter and crafts person who specialized in china painting and intricate quilling construction work. Linda prefers the painstaking craft of stained glass and mosaic work and has turned out an infinite number of highly prized gifts for those close to her. She surprised Jerry one year with an exacting mosaic table top of a golfer teeing off on the fairway…a piece that sits proudly on their back patio.

Linda still enjoys cooking and entertaining, a skill she learned early when growing up.

“Mom taught school for 32 years, so it was my responsibility to help out with household chores and getting supper started so when she came in there wouldn’t be as much for her to do,” she said. “I didn’t mind, but as a teenager, I did think it was unfair that I also had to do the dishes after the meal when there were other things I would much rather have been doing.”

The entire family still gathers at home for Thanksgiving and Linda prepares the turkey and other favorite dishes, while the daughters-in-law bring some of the side dishes.

“I still remember that Mom always felt we had to have two large turkeys for Thanksgiving as she expected everyone to have at least seconds and thought there was something wrong with the meal if they didn’t!”

Jerry shares some of the meal preparation chores now, as he likes to grill out on the patio.

“Then, of course, entertaining our friends with light refreshments and meals is something we both love to do.”

Linda also shared her “recipe” for a happy and long-marriage, as they just celebrated their 50th anniversary a few months ago at Twin Oaks Banquet Center—and no, she didn’t do the cooking. Twin Oaks does the catering and the guests enjoy the evening without preparation or clean-up!

“My parents had a strong and good marriage, so they were wonderful role models, she said. “We’ve found that the main basis for a happy marriage are to have interests in common to enjoy, shared goals for the family, to respect and be supportive of one another. And, above all, communicate. This keeps the spark burning through all the ups and downs and the continuing glow warms and lights the way for the entire family.”

Here are a few of Linda’s most requested dishes.

These appetizers are delicious and required at every family gathering.

They also freeze well, so are nice to keep on hand for impromptu entertaining.

Mix together, making sure both are softened:

1 jar Old English Cheese

1 stick butter

Add and combine:

1 can crab, drained

1 1/2tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

1 1/2 tsp mayo

Spread on 1 package of English Muffins halved. Cut each half into 6 wedges.

(Can freeze at this point in a plastic bag to bake later.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until bubbly.

This is an often-requested dish by family and friends. The recipe came from the 1980 Show Me Missouri cookbook.

2 cups sugar (Linda uses 1 cup sugar and 1 cup Splenda)

2 tsp. dry mustard

3 1/2 tsp. salt

1 small quartered onion

1 1/2 cup vinegar

3 tsp. poppy seeds

Blend well in a blender or food processor, and while it is running add: 2 1/3 cups oil. Yields one-quart dressing.

Pour into a container and refrigerate.

This is delicious over any mixed green or spinach salad, and it pairs well with any fruit or cheese you care to add.

2 chicken breasts cut into thin strips

2 tsp. Cajun seasonings

Place in a plastic bag and shake. Set aside

8 slices each green, red and yellow peppers

4 lg. fresh sliced mushrooms

1 green onion or more

1 Tbs. Butter

1-2 cups heavy cream

Wine, if desired

1/4 tsp. dried basil, or more depending on taste

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

Parmesan Cheese

4 ounces linguine cooked and drained.

In medium skillet, melt 2 Tbs. butter and sauté chicken until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add peppers, mushrooms, onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet.

Melt 1 Tbs. butter, add cream, heat, stirring constantly. When of desired consistency, add a splash of wine if desired. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup or so of parmesan cheese and the seasonings.

Then add in the chicken and peppers, the cooked linguine and more cheese.

Serves 2 generously.

Seasoning can be adjusted to personal taste (garlic on chicken, red pepper flakes, chicken bouillon in sauce). Also amounts may be increased to serve larger numbers.

2 lbs. round, sirloin or chuck steak, sliced thin

1 pkg. onion soup mix

8 ounces fresh mushrooms

1 green pepper sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1 (16 oz.) can tomatoes, drained, chopped and reserve juice

1 Tbs. A-1 sauce

1 Tbs. cornstarch

1 Tbs. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 can tomato sauce

Butter a large casserole dish. Arrange strips of meat in the casserole, overlapping each piece. Sprinkle with soup mix, garlic powder, mushrooms, green pepper, black pepper, tomatoes and salt.

Mix A-1 sauce and cornstarch in with 1/2 cup of the reserved tomato juice; add parsley. Pour over the meat. Cover casserole with foil and seal tightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 2 hours. Twice during the last hour of cooking, uncover, break up meat slices. Reseal. (Add more tomato sauce if needed.)

This recipe came from Linda’s friend, Ann Murphy. Her granddaughter, Haley, loves this dish and often requests it.

Brown in a large pot:

1pound Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage

1 lg. chopped onion

1 lg. red bell pepper

1 lg. green pepper

Drain grease from the sausage.

Add:

1 (10 oz.) can cream of potato soup

3 cups milk

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. chicken bouillon

1 can creamed corn

1 lb. frozen corn

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, or more

Cilantro to taste

Simmer on low until cheese is melted. Taste and adjust seasonings.

1 cup finely crushed Ritz Crackers

1/2 stick butter

3 large Vidalia onions sliced thin

2 Tbs. butter

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

3/4 tsp. salt and dash of pepper

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Parmesan cheese

Paprika

Parsley

Mix cracker crumbs with melted butter; press into 8” pie plate.

Sauté onions in 2 Tbs. of butter until onions are translucent, but not brown. Spoon into crust with cheddar cheese.

Beat eggs with milk, salt, pepper and pour over the onions. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

2 lbs. frozen corn

1 stick butter

8 ozs. cream cheese

1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Put in crock pot on low and cook 8 hours (or can cook overnight. Linda doesn’t.)

This was always served for the boy’s birthday parties when they were young. She got the recipe from Dotty Beck.

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1/2 cup shortening

4 Tbs. cocoa

1 cup water

1cup buttermilk

2 eggs at room temp.

1 tsp. each baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

Bring to boil: butter, shortening, cocoa and water.

Pour over flour and sugar that have been sifted together. Stir well.

Add: buttermilk, eggs, soda, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Mix well.

Pour into greased and floured cookie sheet with rim (jellyroll size.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Icing: Melt 1 stick butter, 4 Tbs. cocoa, 1/3 cup buttermilk. Bring to a boil.

Add: 1 box of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup nuts.

Pour over cake while hot.

This is Linda’s favorite cake and she’s made it for 49 years. She feels she’s got it down pretty well by now.

Mix: 2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking soda

Add: 1 1/2 cups oil, then 4 eggs (room temp.) one at a time.

Add: 3 cups finely grated carrots with 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix well.

Place into three, 8-inch round cake pans, bottoms lined with parchment paper and sides greased.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees until done in center of cakes.

Cool 10 minutes in the pans—then cool completely on a rack.

Icing: Soften 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick butter and beat well with 2 tsp. vanilla. Add 1 box powdered sugar and 1 cup nuts.

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