Those who love to cook do so for many reasons. Some cook to nourish. Some cook to express their creativity. Some cook to connect with others, and to show love or gratitude. Annette Bilodeau Barnard, known by those close to her as Bunny, cooked for all of these reasons. Today, we can all bring Bunny’s home cooking from the heart into our own kitchens, with the newly published collection of recipes and stories in Aunt Bunny’s Favorite Recipes.
The creation of this fabulous cookbook has been a labor of love by Bunny’s husband, Bud Barnard of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge. He feels so blessed to have had Bunny – and her wonderful cooking – in his life for 56 years, that he is now honoring her memory by sharing her recipes with the world. At the request of family and friends who had so enjoyed the food and company served at her always warm and welcoming table, Bunny had actually started this cookbook – and when she “graduated to heaven” (as Bud says) in 2005, she already had nearly 300 recipes in a computer file, ready to go!
These recipes are a mix of originals and variations on classic recipes with which Bunny had experimented in her years of cooking for Bud. The cover of the cookbook features a beautiful picture of Bunny that was taken in 1949, the day that they returned from their honeymoon to the small home that they were renting in Hawaii. Up until this point, Bunny had never done any cooking, aside from helping her mom in the kitchen. The day after this photo was taken, she began her long and love-filled journey of studying and trying out new recipes to serve to her darling husband. Bud recalls that she spent many hours “lying on the lauhala-mat in the living area of our little two-room home, poring over various recipes – trying to decide what to prepare for our meals.”
Flipping through the pages of Aunt Bunny’s Favorite Recipes, you’ll find hundreds of comfort-food classics that will bring you right back to the days when families gathered ‘round the table every Sunday afternoon, passing steaming casserole dishes and bread baskets from left to right while chatting about the week’s events.
Having received one of the first copies of this heart-warming, mouth-watering cookbook, I’ll share two of my favorite recipes – which have already been taste-tested and approved by my family – below.
- ¾ cup Sugar
- ¼ cup Butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup milk
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 cups Blueberries, fresh or frozen, well drained
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- 1/3 cup Sifted Flour
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ¼ cup Butter
- Mix topping ingredients together by cutting in with pastry blender or two knives. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.
- Stir in the egg and milk.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt, and add to the creamed mixture.
- Fold in blueberries.
- Pour batter into a 9-inch greased and floured baking pan.
- Add the topping, spreading it evenly over the batter in the pan.
- Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cut into squares and serve either hot or cold.
Spinach Cheese Casserole
- 1 lb Lean Ground Beef
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 cup Onion, chopped
- ¾ lb Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 8-oz can Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup Sour Cream
- 4 oz Cream Cheese, cubed
- 1 cup Cottage Cheese
- 1 tsp Basil, crushed
- 1 tsp Oregano, crushed
- 2 10-oz packages Frozen Spinach, thawed
- 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Brown meat thoroughly. Drain. Add salt, pepper, onions, and mushrooms. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. Drain.
- Combine in a separate bowl the tomato sauce, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, basil and oregano Add to meat and mushroom mixture.
- Drain spinach thoroughly and add to meat and cheese mixture. Add half the Parmesan cheese and half the cheddar cheese. Mix well.
- Put mixture into 9×13 baking dish. Put remaining cheeses over top.
- Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
Note: This can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake.
Beyond the tasty recipes from the kitchen of Aunt Bunny, what makes this cookbook so very special is the stories interspersed throughout the book of Bud and Bunny’s beautiful life together. The recipes are presented in 23 categories/chapters, such as “Appetizers & Snacks,” “Fun Things with Kids,” and “Sandwiches & Spreads.” On the back side page of each chapter heading, vignettes from their life have been added. These stories – which recount their early years, their charming courtship, and some amazing adventures during their joy-filled marriage – give us a taste of the sweet life that Bud and Bunny shared.
Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite vignettes, titled “The Dream Appearing as a Challenge.”
I borrowed my folks’ car, went over the old, winding Pali Road – years before anyone had even thought of putting tunnels thru the mountains. I picked her up at her home in Kailua, drove back over the Pali to my folks’ place. My doting mother had prepared a big picnic basket. We picked it up and took off through the pineapple fields, over the North Shore, and down the windward side until we were back – actually not far from where she lived. We finally found a beach that I thought would be good. She thought it was hilarious! I thought it was a fiasco! I couldn’t get a fire started; the wind blew sand into the frying pan; I started cursing in Spanish, and all the time, this beautiful, charming gal was doubled-up laughing!
I learned, later, that she was relieved to find that what I was saying was the Spanish equivalent of “zounds and gadzooks.” But I could see clearly that she was the girl I had been looking for all of my life! So, the very next day, I phoned the president of my surveying company and quit so that I could stay there in Hawaii to court this marvelous girl.
Another vignette that captured the spirit and spunk of Bud and Bunny’s adventurous life together is titled “Off and Away.” I’ve included a brief excerpt below.
In the morning, after Bunny’s good breakfast on the little wood stove, we locked the cabin, paddled to the car, and drove back into town.
After looking around, we found the one-and-only pay phone located at the end of a board walk past the front of a saloon, where several old codgers were sitting out front, chewing tobacco. I parked on the street right there, walked down to the phone and called. After a minute or two, I got a connection, and to my astonishment it was the president of the company I had quit when I decided to stay in Hawaii to court Bunny. He said he desperately needed me to do a special job! I listened intently, and then I turned and called out to Bunny in the car, “Hey, Honey, want to go to India?” After two seconds and without discussion, she called back, “Sure!”
What a gal! We cut our vacation to one week – and in a month we were in Calcutta!
When I first received my copy of Aunt Bunny’s Favorite Recipes, I immediately skimmed through the pages to get a sense of the tasty dishes that Bunny shared with Bud – and with her many friends and family members. Then I went back and read the first vignette, planning to read just one or two before calling it a night. Instead, I could not close this cookbook until I had sought out, read, and in some cases re-read the complete collection of vignettes that give us a window into Bud and Bunny’s rare and wonderful relationship.
Personally, I feel so lucky to have connected with Bud in the past year. Getting to know this 93-year-old man who is as positive, full of life, and tech-savvy as many folks half a century younger has been such a pleasure. I’m also excited for Bud’s next adventure in publishing, as he is in the process of putting together a new, more detailed book about his incredibly full and fascinating life. To give you a sense of what’s to come in this next book, titled A Life Worth Living, Bud spent his childhood in Worcester, Massachusetts in the 1920s; was a member of the Harvard Lampoon; attended a poetry class in Robert Frost’s living room; enlisted in the army during WWII and was discharged as a Captain after the war; witnessed the Bikini-Atoll atom-bomb test from a hillside in Honolulu (2,500 miles away); lived and worked in Venezuela, Colombia, India, and Peru aero-surveying for oil; was one of the designers of the first computer used for commercial purposes – and, best of all, spent most of these years with Bunny by his side, always ready for an adventure!
To learn more about Bud and Bunny, or to add Aunt Bunny’s Favorite Recipes to your cookbook collection, please visit Good Reads. If you would like to contact Bud directly, please feel free to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.