Donna and her husband, Tim, moved to Elizabethton from Maryland on March 1, 2007, after Tim’s retirement. The “high-school sweethearts” have been married for 38 years. They share their home with their dog, Kao.
They have two sons — both firefighters — and daughters-in-law, as well as two grandsons.
David and Amby Briscoe reside in Maryland with their 8-year-old son, Hunter, who is a third-grade student at the school where his mother is employed as a fourth-grade teacher.
Michael and Meghan reside in Kingsport with their 9-month-old son, Quillan. Michael works as a firefighter and paramedic, and Meghan works as a hairdresser.
Tim has roots in Elizabethton, where his great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth “Granny” Perry, and grandmother, Elizabeth Trollinger, once lived on Hattie Avenue. His great-aunt, the late Donna Netherland, taught for 40 years at Westside Elementary School in Elizabethton and lived on Parkway Boulevard.
Virginia “Ginny” Laws was Tim’s great-aunt’s best friend. “Now she is our best friend,” Donna said.
When the couple was building their new home in the Hunter community, they stayed with Virginia during the construction process.
Tim said he still remembers visiting Elizabethton as a “little guy” and seeing movies at the Bonnie Kate Theatre and enjoying hamburgers at what is now the Sycamore Drive-In.
Donna noted that two of her passions are focused on cooking and gardening.
She developed an interest in cooking fairly early in life.
“I remember that I used to help my mom in the kitchen,” she said. “When I got married, I copied down a lot of family recipes.”
Ironically, Donna and Tim recalled that her mother, the late Louise Barchers, didn’t start out as a good cook.
“The interesting, funny thing is that Donna’s dad (Billy Barchers) said that her mom wasn’t a good cook when they first got married,” Tim said.
Donna agreed but countered that her mother learned fast and soon became a good cook.
Donna said she benefitted from following her mother’s example in the kitchen, but added that she has taken her love for cooking farther than her late mother did.
Tim used to bake often, but he has not done as much in recent years.
One of the family’s favorite baked goods is Tim’s Cream Cheese Coffeecake.
“It’s incredible,” Donna said. “It’s good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
Donna said she likes to come home after dining out and think of ways to “tweek” recipes to recreate some of her restaurant favorites at home.
“I love to play with recipes,” she said.
In addition, she said she enjoys showing people she loves them by cooking or baking for them.
“I love cooking everything from main courses and desserts to soups and stews,” she said.
Donna and Tim enjoy watching such celebrity chefs as Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri.
On a trip to Virginia Beach to visit with Donna’s father, the couple also got to dine in some of the places recommended on Fieri’s show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
During the visit with her dad, Donna also enjoyed cooking some meals for him. She also prepared several meals that he can store in his freezer and heat and eat as needed.
Tim retired from working in traffic engineering for Montgomery County Government in Maryland before moving to Elizabethton. Donna is currently employed with Data Archives, which is based in Johnson City.
When the couple lived in Maryland, their home was known as the “party house” for family gatherings.
Now, they often visit with their son and daughter-in-law in Kingsport for Christmas.
They still like to observe some holiday traditions involving food, including a Christmas family breakfast featuring “Goldenrod Eggs.” She described this dish as consisting of chopped, hard-boiled eggs and a white sauce made from the egg whites that are served together over toast or biscuits. “I also like to grate some of the yolk over it,” Donna said.
They serve Orange Julius to drink with this holiday favorite.
This past Christmas, Donna compiled some of the meals and dishes most popular with her family into a cookbook she called “Favorite Family Recipes.” Each of her sons received a copy.
Many of Donna’s “tweeked” recipes are in demand from family and friends.
She has her own recipe for a blueberry salad with a blueberry vinaigrette that is a favorite of her daughter-in-law, Meghan.
“She wanted this salad served at her wedding,” Donna said, adding that she was happy to oblige.
The blueberry vinaigrette is based on Donna’s recipe for blueberry chutney. The salad consists of spinach, strawberries, blueberries and candied almonds.
One of her most recent recipes involved creating her own “gourmet vegetable” from zucchini with sun-dried tomatoes, half a small onion, chopped, as well as Parmesan cheese, butter and pepper. With a brief stay in the microwave, the enhanced zucchini is elevated to a delicious gourmet side dish.
Staying true to her philosophy of “keeping it simple,” Donna is sharing a menu for a flavorful dinner meal consisting of Fresh Kale Salad, Rubbed Salmon with Maple Glaze and Fresh Blueberry Cream Pie.
“This whole menu can be prepared in under an hour,” she said. “It’s really quick and easy.
“People tell me after trying this salmon that they’ve not had better in a restaurant,” Donna said.
The dessert for this meal, she noted, is fast and simple. “That’s why I like it,” Donna said. “While you bake the pie, you can be making the topping.”
Donna said she likes to serve her Fresh Blueberry Cream Pie chilled, but some people have told her they like it warm.
1 batch fresh kale, chopped medium to fine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
1/2 fresh lemon, pureed in food processor, rind and all
1 cup craisins
1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Toss and chill.
With Maple Glaze
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 6-ounce salmon filets
Heat grill on medium heat.
Sprinkle salmon with salt. Mix other ingredients and rub onto salmon.
Place salmon on grill rack coated with cooking spray or place salmon on aluminum foil on cooking rack
Grill 7 to 10 minutes until salmon flakes easily when tested with fork
Drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup.
Fresh Blueberry Cream Pie
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Mix first 6 ingredients on medium speed for 3 minutes. Fold in blueberries.
Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
While baking, mix:
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons chopped pecans
Combine topping. Sprinkle over pie.
Bake additional 10 minutes. Chill before serving.
This week’s column was written by Bryan Stevens, assistant editor of the Elizabethton STAR.
To submit your own recipes or suggest a person for “Chef’s Corner,” email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 297-9077.